Sunderland score late to give O`Neill winning start

London: Seb Larsson`s stoppage-time free kick gave Sunderland a 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League on Sunday as manager Martin O`Neill watched his side come from behind for a win in his first match in charge.

The rousing reception given to O`Neill at the Stadium of Light was temporarily forgotten when Blackburn went in front in the 17th minute with a Simon Vukcevic header.

The hosts, who enjoyed much of the possession against their defensive visitors, were denied by some superb saves by Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson before David Vaughan`s 84th-minute equaliser from 25 metres out started the late turnaround.

Two minutes into stoppage time, Sunderland were awarded a free kick 20 metres out and Larsson stepped up to curl in a stunning effort that sent home fans into noisy celebrations and O`Neill jumping up and down along with them.

"We have got some points on the board, which is vital for our confidence and vital for the crowd," O`Neill said.

"For periods I suppose, it was a microcosm of our season. I think the players have played well enough in games but not been able to score a goal, conceded maybe a poorish goal and then succumbed.

"I thought they were terrific today, I thought they played brilliantly, they kept at it as well which is important."

The win lifted Sunderland out of the relegation zone and up to 16th place with 14 points from 15 games. Blackburn remain stuck in trouble, second from bottom with 10 points, two behind Wigan Athletic and one above Bolton Wanderers.

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